The COVID-19 crisis has shined a light on the existing discrepancies in the healthcare system, with patients of color more likely to test positive for and suffer more severe health consequences from the novel coronavirus.
In addition, said panelists at Equal Access to Care for All Communities, a recent HIMSS Global Health Equity Week webinar, the bias faced by people in vulnerable communities makes it harder to fight the disease.
“The stress of being discriminated against your entire life, working and fighting and struggling to get access to income, to get access to education, to get access to care … those things mount up to potentially, maybe thwart our ability for our immune system to fight something like COVID,” said Carladenise Edwards, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at the Henry Ford Health System.
“That cortisol release that individuals have over their lifetime is going to change the ways in which they can respond,” agreed Sam Shah, founder and director of the Faculty of Future Health at Ulster University in Northern Ireland.
“Structural institutionalized problems we have … go beyond the things we can see,”